I was struck by how powerful the compulsion to create a narrative can be. Coincidentally, my own (I can't believe he's) almost three-year-old son has recently started being very interested in stories: he likes it when people make up stories for him and asks to be told the same ones over and over again, but he's also practicing coming up with his own original narratives. A few days ago, I managed to capture him making up his own narrative on video. It's meandering and weaves in and out of a plot, as toddler narratives tend to do, but it gave me the idea to try and animate his story using Scratch.
In the original video you can hear me interjecting comments and prodding the story along here and there, so I edited the video to keep only the “plot points” in his own voice. That also cut it down to a manageable 24 seconds of story time. Then I exported the audio, imported it into Scratch, and delved into creating a simple animation that is timed to his story. You can check out the results directly in Scratch by clicking here, and see the code that is running the whole thing. Below is a video of the animation with an inset of Marcello actually telling the story.
I found Scratch to be a great tool to make a simple visual narrative come alive. When I showed it to Marcello his response was delighted, and he asked me to replay it about 10 times. What I would like to explore is for this to become more of a collaboration, where we are working on either the story or the animation together, perhaps with him making suggestions for what happens next and me working out how to implement that with him present. It feels like developmentally that's still a few months away, his imagination is too jumpy and his patience not quite able to stretch enough to cover me futzing around with blocks and sprites, but it was a very promising introduction to simple programming in a way that can be shared and enjoyed by a toddler!